UGA Mailbag: Special seasons, academic eligibility and ‘walk-up songs’

mailbag(1)THE MAILBAG

Here we are in mid-May and all I got was football questions. Well, that’s life in The Dirty South, right? . . .

JAWJeRDAWG asks: If we can get some continuity out of both the OL and secondary, do you think UGA could have a special year in 2011?

Chip: I’ve been covering college sports for 25 years and I can tell you in all certainty that anything is possible.

First of all, I believe continuity on the offensive line is one of the big factors that determine success in college football. Georgia has already been hit there with the loss of Trinton Sturdivant. But I think they’re actually OK up front if they can stay somewhat settled and develop a little more depth there between now and Game One.

Secondary, in my opinion, is more a product of how you play in the front seven. Left un-pressured and/or un-confused, SEC quarterbacks and receivers can simply shred defenses at this level. I think Year Two in coach Todd Grantham’s system and the infusion/development of new talent at linebacker and interior defensive line can help the Bulldogs most in that regard. I think there are some pretty good athletes in the defensive backfield as it is.

That said, having a “special year” is another thing. By that, I would assume you mean win some kind of championship. Good fortune plays a big part. Injuries are going to come, but the timing of them and the positions affected are the key. Really you have to get some good breaks in your games and in some other teams’ games.

Cynics will point to Georgia’s 6-7 record last year as a reason good things can’t happen for the Bulldogs in 2011. But a closer examination reveals it might actually be a reason to think they can. In almost every season Georgia has won an SEC or national title in the modern era, it has come after a sub-par year. For example:

Championship year — Previous season’s record

  • 1959 — 4-6
  • 1966 — 6-4
  • 1968 — 7-4
  • 1976 — 9-3
  • 1980 — 6-5
  • 2002 — 8-4
  • 2005 — 10-2

And that trend isn’t exclusive to Georgia. Consider that before Alabama started its run in 2008, it went 7-6. Florida was 9-4 before winning the 2008 BCS title; LSU went 8-5 before winning it all in 2003; and Auburn was 8-5 before last season’s run.

I’m not in anyway predicting similar success for the Bulldogs this season. I’m just saying that “what happened last year” may be the worst indicator for “what’s gonna happen this one.”

Patrick Green asks: I’m hearing from reliable sources that A.J. Harmon and/or Caleb King will be ruled ineligible because of academics.  Just wondering if you had heard the same rumors about these two?  That would leave us with only three scholarship backs, including true freshman Isaiah Crowell. While I hope Crowell will be as good as billed, he won’t know pass-pro assignments right away.  How is this going to affect Coach Will Friend’s ability to put together a cohesive OL, and Mike Bobo’s ability to create an effective running game.

Chip: I’m not who your sources are or how reliable they are but if they do actually have access to or knowledge of either of these players’ academic records anything they’re telling you right now is actually a violation of federal law. But to answer your question, yes, I’ve heard the rumors. I’ve been hearing them for a couple of weeks, in fact. But since both players’ were academically ineligible to participate in the bowl game, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to guess they could be in trouble now.

That said, coach Mark Richt’s most recent comments indicate he expects at least King to be a part of the football team this fall. In fact, he said as much at a UGA Alumni Association meeting in Charlotte Thursday night. I wasn’t there but, when asked specifically about King before the meeting, he told Gentry Estes of Dawgs247.com, “We expect him to be back.”

I can tell you that I’ve had off-the-record conversations with people in-the-know about these and other situations and I have a pretty good idea how it might turn out. The thing is, there are processes and rights these kids have with regard to academics and eligibility, and I very much respect laws protecting individuals’ academic privacy. So I’m not looking to “scoop” anybody on this issue. These kids are under enough pressure as it is. I respectfully ask people to let these things run their proper course and we’ll all know who’s eligible and who’s not in due time.

RHALL55 asks: Justin Scott-Wesley, what are his plans? I thought his scholarship offer was pulled, but I saw one sports publication stating he had signed a LOI. Puzzling.

Chip: I can only assume you’re confusing JSW with Zack Witchett. Witchett, a wide receiver from Atlanta’s Booker T. Washington High, committed to Georgia last fall but had his scholarship offer rescinded due to off-the-field problems. Witchett ended up signing with Hinds Community College in Mississippi on national signing day.

As for Scott-Wesley, he signed with the Bulldogs, has qualified for admission and recently defended his Class A state championship in the 100-meter dash. He was unable to repeat in the 200 meters, but that probably has something to do with Scott-Wesley’s continued size and strength gains through coach Joe Tereshinski’s off-season training regimen for signees. The 6-1 Scott-Wesley is approaching 220 pounds these days.

ColonelDawg asks: Does it seem to you that Grantham doesn’t like Richard Samuel or has RS really not progressed very well in the defense? RS is from my local high school so I was able to see him play regularly and I always felt he was better suited for the defensive side of the ball. It’s a shame how his college career has turned out so far. I really hope he can be a big contributor these last two years. How much of a role do you see him playing in the defense?

Chip: I don’t believe Grantham dislikes Samuel at all. In fact, he likes him a lot. He has told me as much. The fact of the matter is the switch back to defense is not as simple as many might think, particularly at linebacker. He’s competing with some guys that have done nothing but play that side of the ball for years. That said, there’s no substitute for the size and speed Samuel brings to the table and Grantham loves  Samuel’s ability to get from sideline-to-sideline. His inclusion to the linebacker corps as a whole — in addition to Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree — has helped transform that unit into one I think will be among the quickest and most athletic in the league this season.

SUHatter94: I love the “walk-up songs” they use in baseball, like Chipper Jones’ “Crazy Train.” Wouldn’t it be cool if they used them in football? What do you think the walk-up songs might be for some of Georgia’s 2011 players?

Chip: Love the question ‘Hatter. Here’s a few off the top of my head . . .

You could go on-and-on with this. Let’s hear some from The Blogosphere!

110 comments Add your comment

JAWJeRDAWG

May 13th, 2011
2:29 pm

Thanks for the mailbag, and your insight, Chip. Enjoy this weekly column. Go Dawgs!

Fridawg

May 13th, 2011
2:38 pm

Almost first.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

May 13th, 2011
2:38 pm

The Orson Charles song is spot on. Not for sure if I like you giving Murray a Christina song as it seems you are setting up all the trolls for digs on him. Ya gotta be thinking Chip!

Poopdawg

May 13th, 2011
2:39 pm

That would be an interesting article about the players walk up songs. It also would be good to here what majors and career choices the players have.

George Stein

May 13th, 2011
2:44 pm

I’m pretty sure non-SEC quarterbacks would shred defenses under those circumstances too, Chip.

Timmy Dog

May 13th, 2011
2:45 pm

Walk up songs? This is embarrassing for us. Please make it go away. Good grief.

AltamahaDawg

May 13th, 2011
2:47 pm

Some serious logistical issue with all that.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
2:47 pm

For Waushan Ealey, how about Cee Lo’s Forget You?

George Stein

May 13th, 2011
2:48 pm

I think the unedited lyrics would apply too, GeoffDawg.

BG

May 13th, 2011
2:49 pm

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
2:51 pm

Agreed George.

AltamahaDawg

May 13th, 2011
2:52 pm

BTW, that abbreviated version that they play for Chipper is called Short Train. Feel free to use that tidbit.

CountryBlumpkin

May 13th, 2011
2:55 pm

Doesn’t Jeter come out to that too? I think it would be hilarious if someone got a hold of a players music and played “It’s raining Men”.

McDawg

May 13th, 2011
2:55 pm

soooooo will they qualify?

i should think that Grantham would love samuels speed

was it a couple of years ago he took off for an 80-90 td -he was blazing

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
2:55 pm

Poor Larry Wayne. His old spring practice journals read like a 5th grader’s “What I did at summer camp.”

Score Check

May 13th, 2011
2:58 pm

Seriously: You masterfully danced around the issue all the while telling us exactly what we wanted to know without violating anyone’s rights. Well played!!!

I hope the appeal process works in their favor.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
2:58 pm

True McDawg and unfortunately, that run was the bulk of his highlights for the year.

CountryBlumpkin

May 13th, 2011
3:00 pm

I gathered from his “dancing” that it will be a pass for one of them (King) and a fail for the other (Harmon).

The Goat

May 13th, 2011
3:00 pm

If Big Bad John’s walk-out song isn’t this, I don’t know what is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx59fmP7jYE

I would freak if I heard this in Sanford after a big sack from the big man.

Tobias Funke

May 13th, 2011
3:05 pm

RHall55

You’re a UGA fan? Good Lord, son.

Tobias Funke

May 13th, 2011
3:06 pm

RHall55

In case you missed it this week (and pretty much the whole year), Washaun Ealey was granted a release from his scholarship. He plays running back and wore #3. LOL

Stinger2

May 13th, 2011
3:14 pm

The players who want to wear No 1 (example Crowell) are amusing to me.
Obviously they are full of themselves. Did Crowell demand that he get No. 1 from a player already assigned with it? My guess would be yes. Well…whatever…that player probably had it for the same reason.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
3:18 pm

Tobias – how’s life as the world’s foremost analyst/therapist?

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
3:27 pm

lol…My guess is business could be better.

Rob

May 13th, 2011
3:32 pm

The Goat – I love that one. Hope Big John gets to camp in shape and ready to smack some heads.

Tobias Funke

May 13th, 2011
3:33 pm

Ooh, I’m getting chills. If this were a Lifetime Moment Of Truth movie, this would be our act break.

ReelDawg

May 13th, 2011
3:52 pm

Chip -

“Kids?” Chip, please. Most of these young MEN that last 4 years are 23, 24 years old.

You men

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
3:52 pm

But it wasn’t.

Chip Towers

May 13th, 2011
3:55 pm

ReelDawg: It’s all relative, my friend. Know what I mean?

ReelDawg

May 13th, 2011
3:58 pm

You mean to tell me if you bumped into a “kid” the same age, same size and same pornster stache as King in a dark ally you wouldnt throw him your wallet and run if he demanded your money?

Give me a break Chip.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
4:09 pm

ReelDawg, if one of these players starts mugging people in dark alleys, then by all means, throw him off the team and let him face the legal consequences. But give Chip a break – he’s talking about respecting their academic privacy as they’re trying to make the transition from childhood to fully self-sufficient adult. I’m surprised you can’t relate.

truedawg

May 13th, 2011
4:15 pm

No walk out songs, no differnt uniforms, and no gimicks. Just go out and hit ‘em in the mouth. How about walk off songs, give the hype after you put a whippin’ on someone. Better just focus on winning, or alot of guys will here”nah nah nah, hey hey..Goodbye” But Washaun’s would be “hit the road Jack!”
I’ve always beliveved one season doesn’t carry over to the next I’ve pointed out the 79 season many times and the almost .500% success of the team. Iknow we signed Walker and that was a playmaker, but other players improved as well. Buck etc. That team came out hungry and motivated. I see this team hungry, beat down, talked down, players being counted out with their replacements ( dream team) replacing them. they are hungry, and eager to perform

ReelDawg

May 13th, 2011
4:18 pm

GeoffDawg -

While I am not surprised you couldnt understand my painfully obvious point, you still shouldnt humilate yourself by foolishly chiming in on matters that are well over your head just for fun.

A “kid” is a child. A minor that if they demand your money you laugh at and say how cute. College football players are young men that could throw you around without breaking a sweat.

I understand why this is complicated for you only having a GED and all ;)

Tobias Funke

May 13th, 2011
4:21 pm

Why in the world was my post removed? I colored myself in blue so I could try out for the Blue Man Group. Analrapist is nothing more than an Analyst/Therapist.

Lets try to have a sense of humor. It is Friday.

If you need some entertainment this weekend fellas, you should Netflix “Arrested Development.”

Wil Walton

May 13th, 2011
4:22 pm

JSW up to 220… sounds like we need to move him to TB with that speed. Talk about a break-away threat in the backfield…

Wil Walton

May 13th, 2011
4:22 pm

sorry, not we, they need to move him to TB

red&silver

May 13th, 2011
4:23 pm

I’m just glad things have been quiet with the legal issues.

say what?

May 13th, 2011
4:28 pm

Academic privacy? Not only do athletes not have to meet the same academic standards as regular students, but they get everything given to them for free, and I do mean everything.

How exactly is this not our business? I would have gladly accepted having my 6 figure college education information made public if others were fitting the bill.

truedawg

May 13th, 2011
4:32 pm

Wil I agree, why not let him try that TB, I hope they think about that atleast.

Saban

May 13th, 2011
4:34 pm

Let`s see king flunks out. Crowell can`t get in. The rest in Clarke County Correctional.

Just another off season for the hounds.

Tobias Funke

May 13th, 2011
4:36 pm

say what?

Nothing in this world is free.

You shouldn’t have let college get in the way of your education.

Common sense ain’t too common.

This isn’t a very difficult concept to grasp. Your grades are just that- yours.

Bob

May 13th, 2011
4:36 pm

Chip, one thing about winning after an off year, is WHY was it an off year. If you’re playing a bunch of young kids one year and you lose a lot, those young kids are not graduating so you get a better season because you have more experienced players. If, however, you’ve just got a lot of bad players, you can still improve by graduating some of them, but you’re not getting that return of multiple starters. Losing A.J. has to hurt and I don’t know that we’re filling in with solid backups. Our RB corp now lives or dies on either a guy who can’t keep his grades up or a true freshman. Neither of these excite me. I do see a good chance for improvement on D and Murray will be a rock. I hope it is enough, and I hope we pull it together this season.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
4:50 pm

A child?!?! You don’t say! I thought you were referring to the baby goat.

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
4:54 pm

No doubt say what. You want to give up every private part of your life for public consumption, knock yourself out.

Hart Co.

May 13th, 2011
4:55 pm

Nazereth. Hair of the Dawg. Now your messin with a son of a …..

Einsteindawg

May 13th, 2011
4:56 pm

Thanks Chip…this is one of my favorite articles and I hope you’ll continue it. These are questions most of us want to know. Thanks for all you do, and I think JS-W would make a great tailback.

the dumb get dumber

May 13th, 2011
4:57 pm

Tobias,

2 simple questions for you. How is King’s education, room and board, meal plan, etc. not free to him since he is not paying for it?

Care to tell me who is paying for it?

Thanks for playing.

Einsteindawg

May 13th, 2011
5:00 pm

@the dumb get dumber…I’m paying for it! Along with all the other Hartmann Fund contributors, and I don’t think I’m getting my money’s worth. I thought being awarded an athletic scholarship to UGA was an honor, not a birthwright. Maybe our coaches should rethink this?

GeoffDawg

May 13th, 2011
5:03 pm

dumber, he’s paying for it through his athletic scholarship which judging by the money the athletic department generates, is quite the bargain. Do you not pay for your mortgage, utilities, and car because your salary comes from your employer?

Tobias Funke

May 13th, 2011
5:31 pm

Dumb,dumb,dumb,dumb… Duuuuumb!

1. He receives a grant-in-aid scholarship contingent on participating with the football team. If he quits, so does the scholly!

2. Hartman Fund

This is fun! Got any more questions, Buddy?